How to Find a Good Hospice Program

How to Find a Good Hospice Program

6 features to look for

Published: October 2014
Hospice doctor Bethany Calkins visits Paul Scheier. Click on photo to see related story.

Most people are referred to hospice by their doctor. Patients, family members, even friends can also make referrals. If you’re looking for a program, check with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. But beware: More than half of U.S. hospice programs are for-profit, according to Medicare figures, and several recent news reports have highlighted problems at some of those programs.

Here’s what we think you should look for in a hospice program:

  • Not-for-profit status and 20 or more years of experience.
  • Hospice-certified nurses and doctors on staff and available 24 hours per day.
  • Palliative-care consultants who can begin care if you’re not yet ready for hospice.
  • An inpatient unit, where patients can go if symptoms can’t be managed at home.
  • Ability to provide care in nursing homes and assisted living residences.
  • Medicare approval. That way, Medicare will cover services, including equipment and home health aides as needed, plus counseling and grief support for the patient and the family.


See our complete end-of-life coverage

Click on the photo at right to read "A Beautiful Death" and watch our video, which follow the end-of-life journey of Paul Scheier, a retired dentist from Buffalo, N.Y. It contains more information on how to prepare for this final passage.

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the December 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine

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